The introduction of the remodeled Les Paul models of the early 1960s sought to bolster Gibson’s reputation as a quality builder of electric solid body guitars, something the Les Pauls of the late 1950s had failed to do. And although those Les Paul models of the late 1950s would eventually become the world’s most iconic six-stringed instruments, the introduction of the redesigned models in 1961 would also signal an important new era in electric solid body design. Characterized by a much thinner body with two cutaways, pointed horns, beveled edges and no body binding, the new Les Paul Custom – as it was called until 1963 – signaled the end of the ¾-size versions of the Les Paul Junior and Les Paul Special, leaving the Melody Maker as the only ¾-size Gibson model. This sleek-looking new design, however, didn’t immediately grab the guitar world’s attention, and sales of the new model continued to hover below 1,000 units per year until the 1970s. Additionally, Les Paul himself did not fully approve of the new design, which lead to the removal of Les Paul’s name in 1963 in favor of its new name, the SG Custom.
Body and Hardware
Short for “solid guitar,” Gibson’s SG Custom featured the exact same thin solid mahogany body as the SG Standard, which delivered exceptional resonance, superior tone and much improved sustain. Its distinctive twin cutaways also offered easier access to the guitar’s higher frets. The biggest difference, however, was the added middle pickup and the guitar’s new circuitry, which included a three-way toggle switch wired to activate the middle and back pickups together in the middle position, an out-of-phase mode designed for added tonal color. The new models were also fitted with one of four vibrato tailpieces that were used in the early 1960s. The vibrato tailpiece that adorns today’s SG Custom model from Gibson Custom is the Maestro version with lyre-engraved cover plate that became a standard appointment in 1963. The SG Custom model was also fitted with a new wing-shaped, 5-ply black pickguard, and its new 22-fret mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard and slim-taper profile was quickly recognized as one of the fastest guitar necks in the world.
Today, Gibson’s SG line remains as one of the most popular and best-selling of all Gibson guitars, and the SG Custom from Gibson Custom is a painstaking recreation of this iconic instrument, circa 1963. Its distinct features and legendary tone are meticulously remade with all the precision and accuracy expected from Gibson Custom, including its solid mahogany body with twin cutaways, pointed horns, beveled edges and gold-plated nickel hardware. Other standard appointments include its pearl block fingerboard inlays, single-ply white binding along the fingerboard and a 1960s slim-taper neck profile. Its legendary tone comes from three ’57 Classic humbucker pickups, which are manufactured to the exact same specs as Gibson’s original PAF humbuckers, including Alnico II magnets, nickel-plated pole pieces, nickel slugs, maple spacers, and vintage-style, two-conductor braided wiring, which are coated with polyurethane to eliminate thin or thick spots on the wire. Wax potting also removes all internal air space and any chance of microphonic feedback. Each SG Custom comes with a standard Gibson Custom case and certificate of authenticity. They are available in a V.O.S. or gloss finish, in either Classic White or Faded Cherry. They can also be ordered with an original Maestro vibrato tailpiece, or with a lightweight aluminum stopbar.